Rules of Engagement

(Part 1 in a series on how to make your family closer by the time the turkey hits the table on Thanksgiving Day.)

There is nothing like 5 states in 6 weeks to make you miss the people living in your house.  The only thing deeply and regrettably missing from my last homecoming was Dorothy Gales’ gorgeous ruby red slippers as I declared truly, ‘There is no place like home.’ 


But it isn’t just geography that can make us miss our homes, is it?

Sometimes it just takes soccer, theater practice, math club, ballet, cricket, viola or the ever-popular unicorn barrel racing.

Even before the last leg of these trips I had planned for this time of year, my heart had set its sights on gathering my chickens back into my nest for lots of downtime in preparation for, of course, the

But the last trip I took…well, it quite literally drove the point home a little deeper.


Five of my siblings and I journeyed over 600 miles on an errand my dad sent us on right before he passed away.  ‘The people,’ my sister Stephanie said, ‘who have loved you all the days of your life and who are weaved into all your best and worst memories.’   Yes, all six of us kids piled into the car on the adventure I have zero doubt Dad knew that it would be (down to getting lost, our actual destination being closed for the season just 12 hours before we got there, and Interstate BBQ).

So what is the thing that had me so ramped up to get home and stop time and pour into my family even more than I wanted to the week before from South Carolina?

The six of us talked for four hours straight there and four hours straight back and all the hours in between of all the memories we had…and I think we only scratched the surface.

Could part of reason we had so many fun memories be due to the fact we were home a lot because 8 people don’t fit in any car easily?  Possibly.

But…I really think we were given more than our fair share of special.

I want my husband and I, and each of our kids to belly-laugh, cry, grimace and groan, giggle and snicker as much as we did this past weekend about all our time together.

So…here is what I am proposing: let’s stop time.  Let’s grab onto our families.  It’s finally going to be the best holiday season, like, ever.

Did you know that rules of engagement are a directive issued by a military authority specifying the circumstances and limitations under which forces will engage in combat with the enemy?  It felt fitting to come up with few of these rules because, you know, unicorn barrel racing, toddlers, and teenagers (oh my).

Based on my upper body strength alone, I am no military authority, but I do know family and here is what I’ve come up with:


Rules of Engagement For Family


  1. You must be very strong to lead this initiative. Everything/one is fighting for every  member of your family and it is a general beatdown to always be the one to put the brakes on.  But…you can do this. 
  2. It is not always going to be fun so lower your expectations (now lower) (even lower than that).
  3. You may have to irritate other people to do it.  This will include your kids.
  4. You will have to fight almost everything tooth and nail to protect this sacred ground.  (see 1 above)
  5. Your family is always, always, always, always, always infinity worth the battle.


Now that’s out of the way and it’s time to work have some fun.  (Pick one, two or all to do this week and next Friday will be a whole set of new challenges fun)


This week:

  • Eat dinner together and ask some of these questions or some of your own.  (You could also do Highs and Lows)
  • Pray together some time during the week that is not dinner time.
  • Turn off the television and play a game together one night.
  • Ask your spouse on a date (don’t forget to leave your phone at home).
  • Call someone in your extended family that you haven’t in awhile (or that you need to).

Advanced Challenges:

  • Make a rough schedule for Family Dates (this is one-on-one time between two members and rotating through the family)

Double Major Bonus Points  

  • Do all of these challenges

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  1. Rachel | 7th Nov 14

    I want to hear about this trip that was a long time coming and I’m so glad y’all took it!! Isn’t it nice how once we unplug and really look each other in the eye (swap tv for games, hang up our cell phones, etc) we see more of the person, or little people that were standing right in front of us all along? I’m checking the “spousal date” off the list this weekend & hope to do all these others too.

    All these things encourage an effort to know and BE known…one of the best kind of challenges!

    • | 8th Nov 14

      I agree, kindred soul sister spirit 🙂 And it gets even harder with all of modern technology’s latest annoyances, I mean, advances 🙂 I love your last sentence…I want to hear about your spousal date IN COLORADO when you get back. Phone date Monday??

  2. Holly | 7th Nov 14

    You are speaking my love language! I love how you say to lower your expectations – like WAY low! I come up with all these “great” ideas and the fam looks at me like I’ve lost my mind!

    • | 8th Nov 14

      I know you love to love on your family, mama. And you are the master at it! I watch you do it well…and I know this look from the family (remind me to tell yo about Ann Voskamp’s Christmas book read-aloud last year–hysterical).

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